by Blue Topaz
Disclaimers: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are not mine, because I don't have enough money to buy it.
Spoilers: Hathor, Singularity, Heroes Part II
Note: This is an episode tag/missing scene for 'Heroes Part II'. It's a bit different from my other fic, but I hope you'll enjoy it nevertheless.
hard when you're so deep inside
To see all you can lose in a blink of an eye
Dreams could be shattered
You could be gone
How would I survive
"How Could I Let You Down" by Jessica Simpson
I pick up the phone on the third ring.
My knuckles turn white when I hear the news. It's hard to acknowledge that she's not by my side anymore, but it's harder to know that she's gone forever. That I will never ever see her face again. Cannot see her smile again.
Nor get the chance to right the wrong.
The world has not collapsed, but for a brief moment, mine has. And I know that my life will never be the same again. It's too late now. I am numb all over. If only I had the courage.
Seven years is not enough time to let her go.
The woman on the other side of the phone has kindly invited me to attend the wake. I cannot find it within myself to refuse the invitation.
I owe her that much.
She was strong. That was why I adored her. She was caring. That was why I am still in love with her.
The picture on the wall reminds me of that.
I remember that day as clearly as if it were yesterday; she was smiling broadly; happiness shining through her eyes. Taking the picture off the wall, I trace the surface of the smooth glass with my fingertips. She once looked at me and then smiled like that.
It still elicits a pang of regret on my heart every time I think about it. I don't know exactly when things went wrong, but I remember vividly when I had to pay for my ignorance. One day I'd gone home, and found the house empty; a farewell letter placed on the coffee table in the living room.
It was concise and to the point. She loved me, but she couldn't live with me anymore. We were young and in love. We made mistake and didn't know how to handle it. So, she went away ... and I let her. She moved on, building a life on her own. Without me.
A cold bottle of beer appears in front of my eyes. I look up to see the owner of the hand that offered the beverage. It's the man who opened the door for me earlier.
"Thank you, Doctor Jackson." Accepting the bottle, I proceed to take a long gulp at it.
The doctor notices the item that I hold in my hand.
"She's wonderful, isn't she?" His tone shows the affection that the other man has for her. Something more than just a friendly feeling.
I tell myself that I am being irrational, but I can't help it. I'm jealous of him. Does he love her like I do? Does he spend his days around her, making her laugh like I used to?
"She is," I whisper. My attention is back on the picture. Envy won't get me anywhere.
"We all loved her," he confesses. "And we'll miss her terribly."
I stare openly at the man beside me, unsure of what to make of the statement. I have to agree with the assessment however. "She had that effect on people."
"Did you know about Cassandra?"
The question is asked casually, but I know that there is a hidden message behind it. Has she told him about it? About a part of my past that I am not proud of?
"I do," I admit. "She told me."
A single phone call that came out of nowhere. I still recollect the nervousness and a hint of hope in her voice when she told me the news; about the little girl who had lost her family. And about how she wanted to have the girl in her life. She was giving me a chance to start over, but I didn't take it. How many nights have I spent wishing that I had said 'yes'? There had been too many to count. I was caught off-guard, but that was no excuse.
"Have you talked to her?" the doctor asks again.
I shake my head.
"If you want to," he pauses for a few second. "I could introduce you to her." The offer is genuine, I can tell.
I denied myself the opportunity to know her once; I will not make the same mistake twice.
"I'd like that very much."
"So, you're Mum's ex-husband, huh?"
"She didn't talk much about you."
"Probably because she didn't want to be reminded. I can understand that. "
"Of me. Of her past. Of what could have been."
"I see ..."
"She was so proud of you."
"How do you know?"
"It was clearly shown in the pictures. She was beaming when she was with you."
"You really *do* know her, don't you?"
"For not being there when your mother needed me the most."
Confession was good for your soul. Or so they said.
The little chat with the young woman has left me wondering. I feel guilty. I could have been in her life, watching her grow. But what's done is done. I can't turn back the time.
I turn around to see two men standing just a few steps away.
The smile upon my lips is polite. I still don't know how to act amongst her friends. "Hi."
"Mind if we join you?"
I am in the kitchen, knowing from past experience that it's one of her favorite places. Her personal items are scattered around the room, welcoming me as warmly as it would if the host was here.
"No. Go ahead. Colonel O'Neill, right?" I ask for conformation.
The man nods. "Yeah, that's me. And that's Murray." He points at the other man.
The newcomers then pull one stool each and sit across from me. The kitchen table is between us; plates full of snacks and some drinks lay on it.
I hesitate before I ask again, "Can you tell me what exactly happened?"
They said that she was injured while in the line of duty, caught in the crossfire. How could this happen? She works inside a mountain.
A shadow clouds the colonel's eyes. "It's classified. I can't tell you that."
"She saved another's life," Murray says suddenly. "Her death was not in vain. We shall think highly of her always."
"Murray's right," O'Neill agrees. A small smile decorates his face. "Fraiser was a great person, no matter how many times she threatened me with the needles."
I gaze at them silently. The warmth is there for me to see. Her friends are able to see how wonderful she was. And for that, I am grateful, at least she had someone to turn to.
"Have you met Carter yet?"
"Just briefly. She's Janet's best friend, isn't she?" I vaguely picture the blonde woman that hugged me earlier. She is the one who called me about the news.
"That's her," O'Neill replies, taking a cookie from one of the plates. "She was looking for you. She said that Fraiser would want you to have something," the colonel informs me.
"Do you know what it is?" My mouth is one step ahead of my brain.
"No." He gazes at me, as if he was assessing me, deciding how to deal with me. "But coming from Fraiser, I won't be surprised if it is something kinky."
"Just kidding," he adds lazily when he sees my reaction.
Murray only tilts his head and raises one eyebrow. I think he is used to this kind of remark from the colonel.
Recovering from my discomfort, I chuckle despite the absurdity of his accusation. I know exactly what happened between the colonel and her. "You were one of her favorite patients, I take it."
"Dr. Fraiser often threatened O'Neill's backside with her most formidable set of needles. In response, O'Neill called her a 'Napoleonic power monger'," Murray suddenly says. I think he is smirking, although his facial expression remains impassive.
"That's her alright." I grin from ear to ear. I take no offence to what O'Neill called her, for I know that she had a way when dealing with difficult patients.
O'Neill looks at his friend with a slight hurt look. "You told on me?" And then he continues, dryly, "I'm crushed."
"I am merely stating the truth."
They should have their own comedy show, their timing is perfect. I can see how she would easily let them become part of her life.
Right there and then, I realize. I can't get her out of my mind. Every little thing reminds me of her. Even insignificants object will actually make me think about her. It feels as though she is haunting me. Shaking my head, I dismiss the ridiculous thought. She *had* been haunting me… even before her death.
"So ..." O'Neill takes a beer bottle and opened it with his bare hand. "Where did you first meet the Doc?"
He doesn't seem to judge me, only curious. Had she told them about me?
"I've known her since… forever."
And then, I start to tell them about everything. I tell the truth to two complete strangers. But, they are her friends; they have the right to know. I don't know why, but it is so easy to relive all the painful moments, even if it's for the first time. I never had the courage, never had someone to talk to before. I surprise myself when the pain that I've been expecting does not come. Instead, I feel relief. I feel peace.
When my story is over, I mentally prepare myself for their condemnation. Hell, I blamed myself. Why shouldn't they?
It never comes.
Both just look at me with something in their eyes that I can't identify. However, I can sense the hurt in O'Neill's eyes, as though he was reminded of something that was buried deep inside. Meanwhile, Murray seems to understand what I'm going through.
"It must be hard for the two of you." That's all the colonel finally says.
"Indeed," Murray agrees.
It sounds silly but I can smell her scent. Her favorite perfume combined with the sweet fragrance that is completely hers. The room is not big, but it is spacious enough to allow enough movement around it.
The wall is painted soft beige. The bed is perfectly made. The sheets are soft blue, decorated with some pillows with the color of the sky. They have matching patterns, complementing one another. The side table is made of wood; there is a bedside lamp on it.
I sit on the bed, gazing at nothing in particular. I just want the memory of her to stop flooding my brain.
I want to smile when I remember how we used to be.
I want to cry when I remember how we had become.
I want to be able to tell her "I'm sorry."
I want to be a stronger man.
I want to be with her.
I want her back.
I cover my face with the palm of my hands, hiding myself from the world. I know that it is inevitable, but the tears just won't flow. We have been apart for so long, that the impact of never seeing her again has not sunk in yet. Seeing her again would break me down, but then again, not seeing her again would kill me slowly.
"Can I come in?"
I pull my hands down and turn around slightly to see a tall woman standing on the door.
She walks towards me carefully, holding something in her hand.
"It's for you. Janet wanted you to have it." She holds the article to my direction.
I reach out for it, holding it tightly, afraid that it will disappear if I ever let it go. It is a leather bound journal. Somehow, I know what's inside. Her thoughts, her life, and her dreams.
"Thank you." I stroke the book with the tip of my fingers, tracing the spine from top to bottom.
"Look." Her voice forces me to look up to her. And when she has my attention, she continues, "She rarely talked about you, but deep down, I know that you still meant a lot to her. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you feel the same too." She hesitates for a moment. "I don't know what is wrong, so I can't judge. Maybe you think it's not my business, and you are right, but I want to know why."
My head turned towards the journal again. "Why what?"
"Why do you choose to be apart when you can be together? You're both lucky enough to have found each other and you're wasting it. Why?" she asks the question with so much sadness and wistfulness in her voice that it tugs my conscience. I don't find the question offensive, but I felt like someone has just scolded me.
"Did she talk about me much?"
"Just a little," she gives a non-committal reply.
I pat the spot on the bed next to me, inviting her to sit on it. She accepts.
"Did she tell you about Terry?"
"Once. When she was drunk. But not drunk enough to turn into a blabbering idiot. She just needed the alcohol to help her ... " she admits. "But after that, every time I tried to bring it up, she just brushed it off. Saying that it was all in the past and she had moved on."
I close my eyes and clench my fist around the journal.
"That's right. She moved on. I didn't. I still haven't ... And because of that, she found it difficult to live with me. She's stronger than me." Swallowing hard, I take a deep breath. "She was even strong enough to leave me. Because she knew, that if she stayed ... I'd bring her down with me."
She puts a hand over mine. "I cannot comprehend how hard it must be to lose a child," she says softly. "But I lost my Mom when I was young. I missed her a lot, even now. But there was nothing I could have done to bring her back to me. So I learned to accept it."
"It's easier said than done."
"It is. When I used to think about her, I felt alone. And I spent a lot of time doing that. But then, I started thinking about what she'd want me to do if she was still alive. She wouldn't want me to drown in my sorrow; she'd want me to live my life. So I did." She wipes away the moisture in her eyes hastily. "There were times when I thought that maybe if I never knew her, if I never felt her love, if I didn't care about her so much, then I wouldn't felt that terrible ... The thought didn't last long."
She squeezes my hand, lending me her strength. Her blue eyes pierce mine with such intensity.
"I've lost so many people in my life. It's never easy and you never get used to it. Nevertheless ... I prefer the pain of losing them rather than not knowing them at all. I feel thankful that I've been a part of their lives." She lets go of my hand and gets up from the bed. "I'm sure that Janet felt the same way."
She starts to head towards the door, giving me back my privacy and time to think about what she said. She stops for a moment at the door, turning back to say her last word.
"I hope one day you can stop dwelling in your loss and start to concentrate on what you've been given."
I watch her shadow disappear. Then my eyes fill with water, blurring my vision. Some turn into droplets that hit the cover of the journal.
What have I been given?
The unconditional love of a wonderful woman and a beautiful child. A memory that I would never trade for all the treasure in the world.
For once in my life, I've learned to let go.
For once in a long time, I feel blessed.
And I've been
For every kiss
For every breath
"How Could I Let You Down" by Jessica Simpson
Any review and feedback are greatly appreciated.